by David Turner
Clean Slate Fest f. Key!, Well$, Frais, High I’m Ry
Aug. 9, 2014
Getting the right number of people on a rap stage is tricky. Too many and the main performer can get lost in a sea of bodies. Not enough and the performer looks a like a child separated from their mother. The best acts at The Clean State Fest this last Saturday at the Neighborhood Theatre found that balance.
The show was hosted by The Clean Slate 704, a hip-hop focused site that tries to put a specific Charlotte-based focus on their music coverage. They booked about dozen acts for an afternoon show at the Neighborhood Theater with the headliner of the show being Atlanta rapper Key! a known figure in Atlanta rising underground affiliated with acts like Two-9 and Makonnen.
After about a half dozen acts that varied from the unfortunately named Jerry to the Wiz Khailfa-lite Virginia Beach rapper Bleezy, youngster Well$ got on stage. He’s performed in the city quite often this summer, but no matter how small or large a crowd he takes the stage with energy that most rappers should take note of.
Up next was Frais, who earlier this year released the pretty chill project Digital Flames. Where most previous acts took the stage alone, Frais had a number of bros on stage, including Well$, which made his set feel like a bigger cause for celebration. Either way, Frais seemed to be enjoying his time with the spotlight on him as the crowded was shouting along to his music.
Then came High I'm Ry of the Forever FC crew, who delivered the best set of the afternoon, especially considering how little time each act was given. It helped that Ry wasn’t afraid to share the stage, but also that his energy never dipped even as Frais and Lute got moments of the spotlight.
After these few choice sets, the headliner, Key!, got to the stage late in the afternoon and barely rapped over his vocals as he just kind of stumbled across the stage. Beyond hearing the hilarious “Look At Wrist,” it was probably worth just stepping outside. Charlotte’s own already put on a quality show.